Ever since falling in the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship match a season ago – the Berkeley College New York men's soccer team has worked diligently to ensure that if it returned to the title game – it would come away victorious. This afternoon, the Knights turned that goal into a proud accomplishment – as Berkeley defeated the two-time defending champion Panthers of Albany College of Pharmacy by a score of 4-1 in the 2015 HVIAC championship match on the Panthers' home field.
The Knights (14-5) – who entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed – defeated the No. 4 seeded Warriors of Vaughn College less than 30 hours earlier by a score of 2-1. Today, Berkeley exercised last year's demons with an impressive victory over No. 2 seeded Albany College of Pharmacy.
In claiming the win, Berkeley earned its third Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference crown in its history, and punched its ticket to the 2015 USCAA National Soccer Tournament – an event that will run from Wednesday, November 4 through Saturday, November 7 from Asheville, North Carolina. With the loss, Albany College of Pharmacy slipped to 11-5 on the year, and will now await word on a possible bid into the National Tournament. Following the victory, Head Coach Stavros Zomopoulos spoke proudly of his resilient and determined group.
"The impressive thing to me about the student-athletes that represent this program in 2015 is the tremendous amount of respect they have for one another," Zomopoulos said. "When you have a team of players that trust and motivate one another, the potential to have success presents itself every day. This season – the team has worked hard every single day – and we're now enjoying the benefits of the determination we've showed – winning our first HVIAC title since 2012, and earning our first bid to the USCAA National Tournament since 2013. I'm extremely excited for our guys, and we're very eager to show what we are capable of on the National circuit. Great win today!"
Hasan Sezer got the scoring started for the Knights, as he netted a goal at the 14:35 mark (from Ali Dahwa) to give his team an early 1-0 advantage. A little less than 23 minutes later, first-year sensation Victor Marotta notched an unassisted tally to give Berkeley College a 2-0 lead. The Knights would hold that 2-0 lead as the opening session came to a close.
In the second half, Albany College of Pharmacy got back in the game at the 56:40 mark when Jack Hanlon found the back of the net (off of a pass from Kyle Jenkins) to make it 2-1 in favor of Berkeley. The Knights would put the game away later on the in half, as Sezer and Dahwa would score goals at 72:51 and 76:37 respectively to make it 4-1 Berkeley. The Knights would allow just three shots in the final 13:23 of action, not allowing a goal and going on to win the championship contest by three goals.
The Knights dominated in the shots category, out-shooting the Panthers by a count of 26-12. Berkeley College had three corner kicks compared to two for Albany College of Pharmacy, and the Knights were whistled for 15 fouls while the Panthers were whistled for 10.
Berkeley netminder Masahiro Kiuchi allowed just one goal on the afternoon while stopping two shots. Albany College of Pharmacy netmider Matt Houlihan made 10 saves despite the loss.
The Knights will learn what seed they earned in the 2015 USCAA National Soccer Tournament on Tuesday, and that information will be posted on www.theuscaa.com as well as Berkeley College's official athletics website, www.berkeleycollegeknights.com.